SDGs benchmark, RE100 hits 100 members, The Body Shop sustainability progress, 100 biggest climate criminals, America's Pledge, Tesco and Mars join workers' fees fight, and Waitrose commits to Fairtrade

Gold Standard launches SDGs benchmark 

THE GOLD STANDARD this week launched its Gold Standard for the Global Goals, a new standard to quantify, certify and maximise the contributions of climate and development initiatives toward climate change mitigation and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.  

The standard is set to help corporates, impact investors and government bodies that fund climate and development projects around the world measure and report credible, verified impacts to their customers and other stakeholders.  

The Swiss-based Gold Standard, which is supported by WWF and other international NGOs, anticipates that the best practice standard will protect businesses against accusations of green-washing and open up new avenues of funding for large-scale programmes, like green infrastructure and sustainable supply chain interventions around the world.  

All projects certified under Gold Standard for the Global Goals must contribute to at least three SDGs, including SDG 13, Climate Action. The standard requires rigorous requirements and safeguards. Gold Standard has also introduced new safeguards to ensure that gender equality is at the heart of every project.  

Marion Verles, chief executive officer of Gold Standard, said: “More and more, we see major corporations making commitments to climate and other SDG targets, yet many are struggling to accurately measure and report their contributions and then translate this into language their stakeholders understand. …This opens the door to new opportunities to communicate credible impacts and allows businesses to receive the recognition they deserve.”  


RE100 hits 100 members three years early 

THE CLIMATE GROUP'S RE100 initiative this week reached its 100-member milestone as AkzoNobel NV, AXA, Burberry plc and Carlsberg Group joined with a commitment to 100% renewable power.  RE100 is delivered with CDP to engage, support and showcase large, influential businesses transitioning to 100% renewable electricity across their global operations. 

RE100 members, including 30 Global Fortune 500 companies, have a total revenue of $2.5trn and operate in sectors from information technology to automobile manufacturing. Together, they are creating around 146 terawatt-hours (TWh) in demand for renewable electricity annually, about as much as it takes to power Poland, the Climate Group points out. 

AkzoNobel is the second biggest electricity user to join the alliance after Walmart. The Dutch paints and coatings company aims to be carbon-neutral and use 100% renewable energy in heat as well as electricity by 2050. 

French insurance company AXA is targeting 100% renewable electricity by 2025. It is using a mix of approaches, notably buying electricity directly from providers and compensating for non-renewable electricity. 

Global luxury fashion brand Burberry is aiming to procure 100% of electricity from renewable resources to power its whole business by 2022 while The Carlsberg Group is switching to 100% renewable electricity at its breweries by 2022, as a step towards its target to become carbon neutral in 2030. 

Helen Clarkson, CEO, The Climate Group, said: “We are really pleased at the success of our campaign; by championing the compelling case for business action, we have reached 100 members three years earlier than expected.” She added: “We are now calling on companies to go one step further, and inspire their suppliers and peers to follow their lead.”   

The Body Shop gives Enrich Not Exploit update 

Credit: The Body Shop

THE BODY SHOP this week published its Enrich Not Exploit Sustainability Report, marking its first year of progress towards its ambition to become the world’s most sustainable and ethical business since it launched its new sustainability commitment in February 2016. The Enrich Not Exploit strategy is an extensive programme of global activity with 14 measurable targets that touch all areas of the business, to be delivered by 2020. 

The Body Shop said it became one of the first mainstream beauty brands to publish how its products perform in terms of use of natural ingredients, ingredients from green chemistry, biodegradability and water footprint. It also introduced a new sustainable sourcing charter to govern its relationship with suppliers  

Achievements include helping over 20,000 economically vulnerable people access work in The Body Shop’s supply chain, against a 2020 target of 40,000. It also made progress on its target to ensure 70% of its total product packaging does not contain fossil fuels, with 58% achieved by the end of 2016.  

Progress was somewhat slower in introducing community trade ingredients, adding one against a goal to double its programme from 19 to 40 ingredients, although another three were announced earlier this year. Progress in cutting energy consumption, and innovating in packaging was also slower than anticipated.  

Christopher Davis, international director of corporate responsibility and campaigns, said: “Whilst we have not succeeded in everything we have done, we have embraced learning and, over the next four years, are determined to maintain progress and I hope go beyond our 2020 ambitions.” 

'100 firms cause more than 70% of global emissions' 

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ONLY 100 major companies, including Shell, BP, and ExxonMobil, have caused 71% of global greenhouse gas since 1988, says new research from global disclosure organisation CDP. The report shows that these businesses have emitted more CO2 in the past 28 years, than in the previous 237 years, with more than half of global industrial emissions since 1988 traced to just 25 corporate and state companies. CDP has also estimated that on this trajectory, global average temperatures will be on track to rise by 4°C by the end of the century. 

According to CDP, the fossil fuel sector can decouple growth and emissions through investments in carbon capture and storage. The report also says that a low carbon tipping point could be reached if urgent climate change action is taken. 

CDP technical director Pedro Faria said: “This ground-breaking report pinpoints how a relatively small set of just 100 fossil fuel producers may hold the key to systemic change on carbon emissions. We are seeing critical shifts in policy, innovation and financial capital that put the tipping point for a low carbon transition in reach, and this historic data shows how important the role of the carbon majors, and the investors who own them, will be." 

Brown and Bloomberg launch ‘America’s Pledge’ on climate change 

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CALIFORNIA GOVERNOR Jerry Brown and former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg have launched America’s Pledge on climate change, a new initiative to keep the greenhouse gas emissions of US states, cities, and businesses in line with the Paris Agreement. 

Since Donald Trump's decision to withdraw the US from the Paris Agreement, sub-federal actors have reaffirmed their support for the agreement through collaborations such as the We Are Still In campaign. The America’s Pledge initiative hopes to build on this, and will aggregate their commitments in a report on the full range of US climate-related activities. It will also provide a roadmap for increased climate ambition from US states, cities, and businesses, amongst others, hoping to demonstrate internationally how the US can deliver on its pledge under the Paris Agreement. 

Michael Bloomberg, the UN secretary general’s special envoy for cities and climate change, said: “In the US, emission levels are determined far more by cities, states, and businesses than they are by our federal government – and each of these groups is taking action because it’s in their own best interest. Reducing emissions is good for the economy and good for public health.”  

Commissioned by Brown and Bloomberg, the Rocky Mountain Institute and the World Resources Institute will jointly lead an inclusive analytical effort supporting America’s Pledge.They will be showcased at the COP23 UN climate meeting in Bonn in November. 

The initiative will work to quantify the impact of these commitments on projected future emissions, comparing against both a business-as-usual trajectory under the Trump administration, and the US nationally determined contribution of 26-28% reductions against a 2005 baseline by 2025.   


Mars, Tesco join group to eradicate workers’ fees  

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GE, MARS, TESCO, and Vinci have joined with seven other global companies in the Leadership Group for Responsible Recruitment, committing to the “employer pays principle” and calling for collective action to eradicate workers’ fees within the next 10 years. 

The four new international brands will be joining Coca-Cola, HP, IKEA, Marks & Spencer, Unilever, and Walmart in committing to eliminate recruitment costs borne by the worker rather than the employer. Payment of such fees by migrant workers is a key cause of forced labour, creating cycles of debt and leaving workers vulnerable to exploitation. 

Alex Dimitrief, senior vice president and general counsel, General Electric Company, said: "Forced labour is a challenging and complicated problem that must be tackled with urgency through the joint efforts of governments, corporations, and civil society around the world.”  

Barry Parkin, chief sustainability and health and wellbeing officer of Mars, Incorporated said: “We believe everyone touched by our business should be treated with fairness, dignity and respect. We’re here to learn with other leaders who are ready to move from conversation to collective action on responsible recruitment practices.”  

Waitrose commits to 100% Fairtrade tea 

Credit: Waitrose

UK SUPERMARKET Waitrose has strengthened its commitment to source Fairtrade tea, amongst growing criticism of Sainsbury’s own Fairly Traded sustainability standard.  

All 46 of Waitrose own-label tea products will now be Fairtrade-certified, after three Earl Grey lines finish the conversion in October this year. Additionally, the retailer stocks 250 Fairtrade products, including 100% of its own-label sugars and the majority of its block chocolate.  

Waitrose said its customers are “extremely loyal” towards Fairtrade products, and that Fairtrade “clearly symbolise” to customers that tea farmers are benefiting from “good working conditions, a fair deal, and funds to spend on their local community.”  

Waitrose commercial director Rupert Thomas said: “We’re proud supporters of the Fairtrade Foundation and have seen first-hand their strong track record of supporting farmers who most need it. We’ve found that our customers are extremely loyal towards Fairtrade products and appreciate our long-standing and continued commitment.” 

The move comes after Sainsbury’s received criticism for piloting its own “Fairly Traded” labelled teas, negating the need for external ethical certification labels on its products. Sainsbury’s claimed the new system will benefit farmers further than Fairtrade’s, while tea producers across Africa have warned that the new system will disempower workers.  

If successful, the tea pilot – which affects more than 229,000 farmers – could be scaled up to other key commodities within Sainsbury’s supply chain. While Sainsbury’s says the move will help simplify labelling, the Fairtrade Foundation condemned the move, claiming the Fairly Traded label falls below the core principles offered by Fairtrade, and will take control away from producers.

See SDG1: Mars leads push to lift 500m farmers from extreme poverty

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